Don’t blame sanctions only, corruption is a factor too

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

ZIMBABWE will commemorate the Anti-Sanctions Day on Tuesday next week with continued calls for the removal of the economic restrictions imposed by the West two decades ago. Regional body Sadc set October 25 as a special day to campaign against the restrictions. Both Sadc and the continental body African Union have been vocal on the need to remove the sanctions, particularly those imposed by the United States under the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera).

There is no doubt that the sanctions have had a devastating impact on the country. One needs just to look at the number of severed correspondent banking relationships as a result of the sanctions or how it has crippled the mining sector. Some mining companies have failed to access money from their banks and clients abroad after it was seized by fiscal authorities in the United States over their dealings with the Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ), which is under sanctions.

This rubbishes the claim by the United States that the restrictions have  affected just more than 100 individuals put on the list.

However, President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has, instead of ameliorating the impact of sanctions, made it worse through ad hoc policies, incompetence and high levels of corruption.

This is a continuation from the impoverished leadership of the late former president Robert Mugabe. The startling revelations by Mugabe in an interview that billions worth of diamonds which were discovered in Marange were looted without the arrest of the perpetrators, will forever be a hallmark of his leadership failures.

That the looting of diamonds, which  could have been a possible gamechanger in improving the livelihoods of the country’s citizens, had been looted and remain unaccounted for shows how the Zanu-PF-led government has only gone to pile more misery on that brought about by sanctions. Sadly this level of impunity has continued under Mnangagwa as the revelations by Auditor General Mildred Chiri, that millions of United States dollars and billions in local currency have vanished from government coffers without being accounted for, has shown. The admission by the octogenarian leader during a recent ground-breaking ceremony at Dinson Iron and Steel plant in Manhize, Midlands province that  government officials are frustrating  potential investors by sleeping on duty shows that the country’s low foreign direct inflows cannot just be attributed to sanctions.

Government’s ad hoc actions such as suspending bank lending, suspending the operations of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) and hiking interest rates to 200% have severely weakened business and investor confidence.

That the issue of the suspended Old Mutual and PPC shares from the local bourse remains unresolved since 2020 is an indication of the government's embarrassing shortcomings and not sanctions. Indeed it is such actions by the government that have resulted in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development placing the country at the very bottom of its Trade Openness Index.

As Mnangagwa’s government organises galas and other events calling for the removal of sanctions, it should take time to also reflect on the part it is playing in aggravating the citizens’ suffering.

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